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Watch Out For Identity Theft With the CERB!

January 20, 2021
Watch Out For Identity Theft With the CERB!

Did you know that over 700 cases of fraud have been reported to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre in connection with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and that’s in just three months! Recently, we have heard a lot about identity theft victims related to the CERB. That’s why we are sending you this alert to help protect you from CERB-related scams. As you may be aware, the federal government announced the CERB to assist Canadians financially affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, fraudsters have discovered loopholes in the process to obtain this benefit. This loophole has allowed several scammers to take advantage of the system and pocket large sums of money.

How do they do it?

First, the fraudsters steal an individual’s identity. They then change the direct deposit information in the individual’s Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) “My Account”. Once the banking information has been changed, the fraudster applies for the CERB online under the individual name. Finally, they ensure that the CERB payment is deposited into the new designated bank account. And that’s it! This is what is known as identity theft! It usually takes more than a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to access “My Account”. However, fraudsters manage to do it! Admittedly, the CRA has recently changed the procedure for obtaining the CERB. However, it’s important to remain vigilant as CRA investigators are completely swamped and overwhelmed by the situation.

How can you tell if you’re a victim of identity theft?

First of all, everyone who has received their CERB payment in their bank account has nothing to worry about. The majority of victims become aware of the fraud when they apply for CERB on their own. They receive a message that they have already applied and are therefore not eligible for the benefit. Of course, for individuals who have never applied, this comes as a surprise. It is only by contacting the CRA that they realize they are victims of identity theft.

You may also discover if you are a victim of fraud next spring, when you receive a T4A tax slip confirming receipt of CERB amounts that you never received.

You will also find out if you have a $2,000 or more deposit in your bank account.  Indeed, in some cases, it happens that the scammer did not have time to change your banking information before the deposit. In such a case, if you do not qualify for the CERB, you will have to reimburse the CRA for the amounts received. If your financial situation does not allow you to reimburse immediately, contact the CRA to arrange a payment arrangement and report the fraud.

Piece of advice

We strongly recommend that you log into your CRA account to ensure that there has been no fraudulent activity on your file. We also recommend that you take this opportunity to secure your password. Note that a good password should be easy for you to remember, but impossible for others to guess. There is a site with a tool that tests the security level of your password:  “How secure is my password?

If you haven’t already done so, sign up now for the CRA’s “My Account” by clicking here. If you prefer to speak with an agent, contact the CRA for assistance.

In short, no one is immune to fraud. You must be vigilant at all times! If you receive a call, email or text message asking for your Social Insurance Number or personal information, do not respond. Report it immediately to the appropriate authorities. Be careful when clicking on links in emails you receive. Criminals often use phishing to lure you to fraudulent websites.

Click here to find out more about how to recognize, reject and report common CRA-related frauds.

Reminder

The tax authorities have extended the payment date for 2019 tax returns to September 30, 2020. This payment deadline extension applies to individuals as well as corporations and trusts. Note that the deadline for filing tax returns was June 30, 2020. There will be no interest or penalties for late filing, including instalment payments. However, it is important not to miss the September 30, 2020 deadline.

Impact of late filing or payments

  • You may be denied income-based benefits, such as the Canada Child Allowance, the Quebec Solidarity Tax Credit and the federal GST credit;
  • If there is a significant change in income from the previous year’s tax return, you may have to repay some of the excess benefits you received;
  • There is a risk that the Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits will be interrupted for people over 65 years of age receiving the Old Age Security pension.

Hurry up, you have less than two weeks to file, transmit and pay your tax returns. Any tax concerns? Contact us at 1-844-200-TAXO.  Our team will be pleased to assist you.

We wish you to enjoy these last summer days and look forward to helping you file your tax returns!

The TAXO team